Aram Bajakian is a sweet and soulful cat who specializes in the business of playing from his fucking heart and making music that comes from a real and personal place. I wish that there were more like him. He's spent the last two years playing with Diana Krall and the late, great Lou Reed as well as leading several of his own bands. Aram is the real thing and this is a good talk.
Andrew Hock is an intensely talented young musician who plays from his heart, puts blood into his music and is developing a body of work that is based in intense personal experience. For this one, Andrew and I knocked back a couple of bourbons and got into it. Deep. Dark. Cult.
Shanir Blumenkranz is a deeply soulful cat who has committed himself to a life of music and plays from his heart. He has been in New York for the better part of fifteen years and has been a major contributor to the city's Radical Jewish Culture scene. After appearing on dozens of other people's records, Shanir released his first recording as a leader in 2013, a collection of his arrangements of compositions from John Zorn's Book of Angels. This is a good talk with a solid dude who is doing it for real.
Lea Bertucci is a composer, bass clarinetist and sound artist who now resides in Hudson, New York. She is an interdisciplinary artist and she spent much of her 7+ years in New York City putting on house shows with an emphasis on creating an inviting environment in which excellent music could take place. For this talk, Lea and I discuss her experience as a curator, frustrations with getting ones work heard, and her recent move upstate to have more space and peace in which to create.
Hank Shteamer is a musician and author who has been living in New York City for the better part of fifteen years. He plays drums in the band STATS and is the senior music editor for Time Out New York. For this talk, Hank and I discuss his time at WKCR, adversarial relationships between musicians and critics, and his current campaign to raise funds to reissue the first three records by his favorite band, Craw. A good talk.
Sylvie Courvoisier is a pianist and improviser of stunning virtuosity and precision. Her playing is marked by tremendous technique and an advanced sense of harmony. She has worked closely with Ikue Mori, John Zorn, Mark Feldman, Susie Ibarra and many others. Two weeks ago I traveled to her home in Brooklyn to trace her history from being the daughter of a weekend jazzer in Switzerland to being one of New York's fiercest musicians. Sylvie is the real deal and I am honored that she broke off a couple hours to sit down and get into it with me.
Miguel Frasconi is a unique and very thoughtful musician. His musical roots run deep in the experimental tradition of New York City and his instrument of choice, glass, is a clear reflection of that. After spending many years living on the West Coast, Miguel returned to New York ten years ago to care for a sick parent and to put down some new musical roots. The last few years have been very challenging for him and after a lot personal hardship, he is on the verge of releasing some new and exciting music. This is a great talk that goes to some very touching and personal places.
Ches Smith is an intensely talented drummer and a true road dog. He's been touring for over fifteen years with Secret Chiefs 3,Xiu-Xiu, Tim Berne, Ben Goldberg, Mr Bungle, John Zorn and many others. He's one of the most in demand drummers around and for good reason- he fucking rules. For this talk Ches and I discuss heavy touring, balancing family and music life, and his introduction to Haitian music. This is a good one with a good dude.
Jim Black is a cat. He's been on the scene a long time, playing drums in several of the most important bands to come out of Brooklyn in the past two decades. He's travelled the world and for this episode Jim and I sit down to discuss the state of a crumbling music industry, maintaining long-term relationships both musical and personal, and growing as a musician. This is a good one so strap in.
Ben Goldberg is a clarinetist of astounding virtuosity, depth and sensitivity. His music has had a profound effect on me since first encountering it at age 19 and any chance to hear Ben play is a revelatory experience. For this talk Ben and I go deep, real deep as we discuss the ongoing struggle inherent to playing clarinet, the weight of tradition, and living a balanced life. I couldn't be more proud of how this podcast turned out and I hope that you all get as much out of listening to it as I did making it.
Billy Martin is a world class drummer who has made a name for himself as a founding member of the legendary Medeski Martin & Wood. When not on the road with MMW, Billy keeps busy running his record label, improvising with a broad range of musicians, focusing on his visual art and most recently, composing for film. This talk took place just after New Years on a sunny Sunday afternoon at Billy's house in New Jersey. We cover a lot of ground and I am very grateful to Billy for talking.
Charlie Looker is a special one. Born and raised in New York City, he's been on a very personal and intense musical journey that started as a young teenager going to shows at the Knitting Factory. He was a founding member of Zs, which he left to start Extra Life. Since disbanding Extra Life Charlie has been busy with Seven Teares and most recently Psalm Zero, who will release their first full-length "The Drain" on March 4th. For this conversation Charlie and I drink waaaaay too much whiskey and get into it, knocking over mic stands, arguing about Death Grips and throwing vaguely antisemitic snaps at one another. This one gets weird...
Tom Blancarte is a gifted bass player and improviser with whom I have been collaborating for the past decade. On February 23rd he will release his first solo album on Dan Peck's Tubapede Records. Entitled "The Shortening of the Way", it's 35 minutes of psychotic and virtuosic solo playing. For this one Tom and I talk improvising, solo playing, beer, day jobs and death. Check it.
Jesse Krakow is a bro among bros and a veteran of many crucial prog and avant rock ensembles. A Los Angeles native, his blood runs thick with a love for the two Coreys, Del Taco, "It's A Living" and Captain Beefheart. For this talk Jesse and I go to a lot of places, starting our trip in the San Fernando Valley of the 1980s and ending it as a father in Brooklyn in 2014, we go to some very strange and uncomfortable places in between. When you get two Jews on the mic things tend to get weird and this episode is no exception.
Ellery Eskelin is the kind of musician who, in his personal approach to life and music, sets and example for all of us. He has been playing the saxophone for forty years and continues to reinvent and refine his relationship to it. He is a Baltimore native, the son of six night a week gigging mom, and he grew up in playing blues-based bop since the age of ten. For this conversation Ellery takes me back to Baltimore, with some great stories from childhood to his first gig in New York up until the time he locked himself in his basement for three months to develop an approach to solo saxophone. Episodes like this are the reason that I started this podcast.
Matt Bauder is without question one of the most talented, proficient and soulful musicians that I know. He does things on the saxophone that make me want to quit music forever. He's also a handsome cat (look at this mug). For this talk Matt and I examine a lot of our own frustrations with trying to build a life around music as well as look back at Matt's high school years with Wolf Eyes, Colin Stetson and Andrew WK. A great one.
Matt Mehlan is an exceptionally talented and thoughtful composer, guitarist, vocalist, producer and engineer. He started the band Skeletons while still in school at Oberlin and is now creating electronic music under the name Uumans. He's a sweet cat and someone who I'm always happy to run into. For this talk Matt and I talk a lot of shit, dealing with the current state of the music business, whether or not Kanye is a genius and how song writers are inherently disrespected. Good shit yo.
After many years developing her voice as a saxophonist in London and Germany, Ingrid Laubrock moved to Brooklyn in 2008 and has been working her ass off ever since, producing an incredible amount of deep and thoughtful music. Prior to this conversation Ingrid and I had never met nor heard note one of each others music. I was completely blown away by her earnestness and her devotion to her craft. Ingrid is a special one and this is a good talk.
Ryan Sawyer is a good cat. He's a Texas native who has been living and making art in NYC since the late 90s. He's worked extensively with artists such as Nate Wooley, Thurston Moore, Daniel Carter & Rhys Chatham and is on the verge of releasing the first record under his own name, a record of music for solo drums and voice produced by Shahzad Ismaily. For this talk Ryan takes me through his childhood in Texas, where as a teenager he got to interview Max Roach and Mike D, as well as study with Clark Terry. A good talk.
2013 started with a tremendous deal of heartbreak and sadness for many people in and around Athens, GA as Craig Lieske passed away, suddenly, on January 18th. Craig was a pillar of the Athens creative community- He was a crucial figure who not only possessed incredible musicianship, but also took great delight in bringing people together and engaging in deep conversation. Craig was the first person with whom I ever improvised and it was Craig who turned me on to, among other things, the music of Evan Parker, John Zorn and Derek Bailey. For the final podcast of 2013, and in honor of what would have been Craig's 49th birthday, I travelled to Athens, GA and spoke with several of Craig's closest friends and musical colleagues. In this episode we hear from Mitchell King, Tony Evans, Jeff Rieter, Jim Wilson & Chris Herron as we share personal remembrances and stories of Craig.
Special thanks to Sloan Simpson at Southern Shelter.